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What I’m Telling Clients About Buying vs. Renting Right Now

<p>AzmanJaka/Getty Images</p>

AzmanJaka/Getty Images

Many factors have contributed to an increase in real estate prices. People leaving major cities due to COVID-19, fluctuating interest rates, and supply shortages are just a few examples. While this presents challenges, it also offers an interesting exercise for potential homebuyers or renters.

Key Takeaways

  • A number of factors, including COVID-19, interest rates, and supply shortages, have spiked real estate prices.
  • Higher down payments and mortgage costs due to rising interest rates are important pieces to consider.
  • The Price-to-Rent Ratio helps assess whether renting or buying is more advantageous based on current market conditions.
  • Financial and non-financial factors are crucial in making an informed choice on whether to buy or sell.

As prices soar, buyers face the need for larger down payments and contend with higher mortgage costs due to rising interest rates. This alone could be a deterrent to purchasing a home, but there are several ways to calculate whether you might be in a better position to rent or buy.

One highly regarded metric is the Price-to-Rent Ratio, which is the Median Home Price divided by the Median Annual Rent. Price-to-rent ratios of 15 or less indicate that it’s a good financial decision to buy. Ratios of 21 or more indicate that the housing purchase market may be overpriced and that it may be better to rent instead. According to the US Price to Rent Ratio, we are close to all-time highs, indicating it may be a better period to rent than buy. 

Renting also entails less responsibility than home ownership. Most of the things that could go wrong when renting, especially the higher ticket items, would be the responsibility of the landlord. However, as a homeowner, those expenses are on you. 


You need to forecast what the total cost of home ownership will be including mortgage, taxes, insurance, Homeowners Association (HOA) fees, and ongoing maintenance and renovations.

Beyond financial considerations, the length of time you stay in your given location is important. The shorter the time frame, the more inclined you may be to rent. Furthermore, if you aren’t sure of your long term living plans or are trying out a given area, renting is less of a financial risk and allows room for flexibility if you change your mind. 

What I’m Telling My Clients

There is no one-size-fits-all answer here.  For some renting may be ideal, while for others, buying makes more sense.  Geography plays a role in the decision as well as greater surge in prices in specific areas.  Regardless of where a family is looking to live or their feelings about rent vs. buy, I highly suggest that a full analysis of the situation is reviewed. 

Make sure you create new budgets comparing both your buy and rent scenarios, and see how you feel.  Evaluate both the financial and non-financial aspects of renting vs buying. 

The Bottom Line

The challenging environment surrounding home ownership does not have to mean that buying is a bad decision. In the end, evaluating all of the factors from downpayment to ongoing costs, how long you plan to live in the area, and whether it is ideal for you and your family may provide the insight you need to make the best decision. 

Society has created the perception that if you do not own a home you have failed in some way, but this could not be further from the truth. Too many people enter homeownership without doing their due diligence and end up regretting it. Renting can and is a great option for many, and you need to evaluate what is the right decision for you.

This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal, and/or tax advice.

Read the original article on Investopedia.